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Pacific bluefin tuna record caught by Ellensburg angler

FISHING — Sam Ellinger of Ellensburg has set a state record for the largest Pacific bluefin tuna caught off the coast of Washington, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife has confirmed.  

The 39.20-pound tuna measured 41 inches and was caught 28 miles offshore southwest of Grays Harbor.

Ellinger, a student at Central Washington University, said he began the day early and was bait-fishing with anchovies, "from the crack of dawn until it got dark."

"Catching a fish this size was pretty exhausting," he said.  "We didn't know what we hooked until we got it on the boat."

The previous Pacific bluefin tuna record was caught in 2012 by Patrick Fagan while fishing 35 miles offshore from Westport.

Pacific bluefin tuna facts courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium:

  • Among the largest and fastest fish in the ocean.
  • Streamlined to reduce drag around their fins for energy conservation on long-distance journeys. Tuna also can become super-streamlined by retracting or folding fins against the body so water flows even more smoothly over their bodies.
  • Capable of swimming 12-18 mph for brief periods.
  • Unlike most fish, tuna are warm-blooded and can heat their bodies to 11 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the surrounding water. This added warmth helps their muscles work faster and more efficiently.
  • Consume as much as five percent of their body weight daily and must continually swim with their mouths open to force water over their gills, supercharging their blood-rich muscles with oxygen.
  • Migrate more than 6,000 nautical miles to the eastern Pacific, eventually returning to their birth waters to spawn off of Okinawa, between Taiwan and the Philippines and in the Sea of Japan.
  • Overfished throughout the world.

U.S. starting to curb appetite for overfishing

OCEAN FISHERIES — Forty stocks of fish populations are subject to overfishing in U.S. waters, but progress is being made to rebuild stocks and reduce overfishing, federal officials say.

The number of fish populations being fished at too high of a level at the end of 2010 was up by two from 2009, according to an annual report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Among the stocks being overfished are cod in the Northeast, red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific bluefin tuna off the West coast.

But officials said many key populations of fish have shown improvement over the years. Twenty-one stocks have been rebuilt to healthy levels since 2000, and three key stocks in the Northeast — Georges Bank haddock, Atlantic pollock and spiny dogfish — reached healthy levels in 2010, said Eric Schwab, the head of NOAA’s Fisheries Service.

“We are turning a corner as we see important fish stocks rebounding,” Schwab said in a statement.

Tuna, lost wallet busts robbery suspect

A box of Chicken of the Sea tuna and a lost wallet recently led to felony charges against a Spokane man suspected of robbing a medical marijuana patient at gunpoint.

Jesse Ryder Bender, 29, is in jail on $35,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court on two counts of unlawful imprisonment and two counts of first-degree robbery. He was arrested Feb. 21 after being released from jail Jan. 3 because prosecutors hadn't yet filed charges.

Bender was first arrested Dc. 30 while working at the High Nooner in downtown Spokane.

Detectives identified Bender as a suspect through a wallet left at the scene of the Dec. 28 robbery , in the 8000 block of E. South Riverway Ave. in Spokane Valley. Fingerprints on a box of Chicken of Sea also were identified as belonging to Bender, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Police say Bender asked a woman at the home if she'd ordered Chicken of the Sea when she answered the door, then forced his way into the home and gunpoint and tied the woman up. Her son had a medical marijuana card and maintained a small grow operation at the home.

Bender and another man not identified in court documents are accused of binding the woman and her other son with zip ties and stealing marijuana plants while the pot patient was at work.

Detectives discovered Bender's wallet in the grow room and contacted him at the sandwich shop, where he told them he may have lost his wallet on the bus.